Social support in persons with self-reported sensitivity to chemicals

Res Nurs Health. 1998 Apr;21(2):103-15. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-240x(199804)21:2<103::aid-nur2>;2-n.


Social support was examined in 305 persons with multiple chemical sensitivity using the Personal Resource Questionnaire 85 (PRQ85; Weinert, 1987) and qualitative descriptions of respondents' social interactions. PRQ85 scores were lower than those of healthy populations, but similar to samples with chronic illness. Participants needed but were prevented from receiving support for personal difficulties due to their limited public access, their need for chemical avoidance including fragrances, and others' lack of information and negative attitudes regarding chemical sensitivities. Respondents drew some support and validation from support groups and from romantic relationships. Fatigue level, being in a romantic relationship, contact with a support group on a monthly or more frequent basis, chemical avoidance in the home, gender, and an improved course of illness predicted 19% of the variance for perceived social support. Qualitative data are used to illustrate particular problems of persons in this sample, and suggestions are made for practitioners who encounter this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Disabled Persons
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity / complications
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity / prevention & control
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity / psychology*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires